Brimstone & Glory (2017; Viktor Jakovleski)
By Daniel Barnes
*Opens Friday, November 3, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.
A color-saturated, visually stimulating, razor-thin documentary about the National Pyrotechnic Festival that takes place in the Mexican municipality of Tultepec, a national center for fireworks production. There are two main events during the festival – one involving skyscraping towers festooned with colorful explosives, and the other involving elaborately decorated bulls that detonate into blazes of fireworks while daredevils dance around in the colorful flames.
Making his feature directing debut, Jakovleski provides little context, less story and almost no commentary. Rather than using the festival as a springboard to explore issues of worker safety, environmental desecration and out-of-control machismo, he mostly turns the 67-minute Brimstone & Glory into a candy-colored formal exercise.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Jakovleski and his collaborators (including the editor and composers behind Beasts of the Southern Wild) deliver one jaw-dropping sequence after another. I doubt I’ll ever forget some of the potent images in this film, especially the enormous bulls erupting into rainbow-colored infernos while sparkling projectiles whiz through crowds of cavorting lunatics.